Friday, November 17, 2017

The Dirtiest Trick: The Trump Dossier was commissioned by the Clinton presidential campaign in mid-2016

By Scott Johnson

Now we know that the Trump Dossier was commissioned by the Clinton presidential campaign in mid-2016 through the Perkins Coie law firm.

Perkins Coie’s Marc Elias served as counsel to the Clinton campaign. He called on the GPS Fusion firm to do a number on Donald Trump with the services of former British MI6 man Christopher Steele. If we take his work at face value, Steele consulted with a few friends of Vladimir Putin for some old fashioned Soviet-style disinformation courtesy of Putin himself. Here we had the effectual “collusion” of a presidential campaign with the Russians, though it has somehow escaped the scrutiny of American law enforcement authorities.

In her Wall Street Journal column “Lifting the Steele curtain” this past Friday Kim Strassel called the dossier “one of the dirtiest tricks in U.S. political history.” At the heart of her column she focused on the shrewdly evil introduction of the dossier during the campaign. Analyze this:

“Details from the dossier were not reported before Election Day,” ran a recent CNN story. Hillary Clinton herself stressed the point in a recent “Daily Show” appearance. The dossier, she said, is “part of what happens in a campaign where you get information that may or may not be useful and you try to make sure anything you put out in the public arena is accurate. So this thing didn’t come out until after the election, and it’s still being evaluated.”

This is utterly untrue. In British court documents Mr. Steele has acknowledged he briefed U.S. reporters about the dossier in September 2016. Those briefed included journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News and others. Mr. Steele, by his own admission (in an interview with Mother Jones), also gave his dossier in July 2016 to the FBI.
Among the dossier’s contents were allegations that in early July 2016 Carter Page, sometimes described as a foreign-policy adviser to Candidate Trump, held a “secret” meeting with two high-ranking Russians connected to President Vladimir Putin. It even claimed these Russians offered to give Mr. Page a 19% share in Russia’s state oil company in return for a future President Trump lifting U.S. sanctions. This dossier allegation is ludicrous on its face. Mr. Page was at most a minor figure in the campaign and has testified under oath that he never met the two men in question or had such a conversation.

Yet the press ran with it. On Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff published a bombshell story under the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Mr. Isikoff said “U.S. officials” had “received intelligence” about Mr. Page and Russians, and then went on to recite verbatim all the unfounded dossier allegations. He attributed all this to a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” making it sound as if this info had come from someone in government rather than from an ex-spy-for-hire.

The Clinton campaign jumped all over it, spinning its own oppo research as a government investigation into Mr. Trump. Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s communications director, the next day took to television to tout the Isikoff story and cite “U.S. intelligence officials” in the same breath as Mr. Page. Other Clinton surrogates fanned out on TV and Twitter to spread the allegations.

The Isikoff piece publicly launched the Trump-Russia collusion narrative…
Kim also raised the question whether FISA warrants on figures around the Trump campaign were procured in part on basis of the dossier. She concluded that “it is fair to ask if the entire Trump-Russia narrative—which has played a central role in our political discourse for a year, and is now resulting in a special counsel issuing unrelated indictments—is based on nothing more than a political smear document.” She asked: “Is there any reason to believe the FBI was probing a Trump-Russia angle before the dossier? Is there any collusion allegation that doesn’t come in some form from the dossier?”

A special counsel must investigate the Russia dossier, explain why Obama's FBI was involved

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo and Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins weigh in on 'The Story.'
For the past year, as our government has been mired in both an aimless and fruitless investigation into accusations of collusion between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump Presidential campaign, Democrats have insisted that Congress follow where the evidence leads in this investigation.
My Democratic colleagues are absolutely right. Congress should follow where the facts lead. However, they’re leading in a very different direction than the mainstream media narrative might suggest.
With regard to the original purpose of the investigation, Congress has held multiple hearings and interviewed dozens of witnesses looking into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. There is nothing there. It's time to move on.
But in the process of chasing a non-existent scandal, we’ve learned of a concerning fact pattern surrounding the Clinton campaign, and potentially the Obama administration’s, involvement in a 2016 targeted campaign, using salacious information from foreign intelligence officials, against then-GOP nominee Donald Trump. The information we’ve learned warrants the appointment of a special counsel to investigate how the Russian Dossier was created and why President Obama’s FBI was involved.
As we know from a recent New York Times report, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for research that was included in the now infamous Russian dossier, made public in January of this year by Buzzfeed and reported on by CNN.
We now know the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to compile the dossier with research provided by Russian intelligence officials. Much of the dossier contained claims that have either not been verified or have been directly refuted.
The fact that the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid intelligence officials in Russia for salacious and false information on President Trump is suspicious enough. But we’re also beginning to see evidence that raises questions about whether the Obama Justice Department may have inappropriately involved themselves in this project both before and after the 2016 Presidential campaign.
Consider the following timeline: In April of 2016, the Clinton campaign enlisted the law firm Perkins Coie to retain Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Russian Dossier. That very same month—April of 2016—President Obama’s campaign began paying more than $900,000 to Perkins Coie, the very same firm used by the Clinton campaign to create the Russian dossier.
We also know that in the weeks prior to the 2016 election, President Obama’s FBI tried to reach an agreement with Christopher Steele to pay for the Russian dossier, and the FBI actually ended up reimbursing some of those dossier expenses to Christopher Steele. It’s worth repeating to be clear: the FBI attempted to pay (and then reimbursed) costs for a Russian dossier that was being orchestrated by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Strangely, the FBI has refused to answer questions and resisted any transparency on this issue.
Going one step further—we know that on January 6th of this year, President Obama’s intelligence officials, led by then FBI Director James Comey, briefed President-elect Trump on the contents of the Russian dossier. Following that January 6th briefing, there are reports that Obama Administration Intelligence officials almost immediately leaked details of the briefing to CNN. 4 days later, on January 10th, the dossier ended up being published by Buzzfeed.
Keep in mind that several media outlets had the dossier on hand prior to January 10th. None of them had printed it or reported on it since the claims within could not be verified.
This is an alarming timeline that leaves a myriad of disconcerting questions, but the specific points of interest can be boiled down into a few specifics:
Why did President Obama’s campaign begin paying almost a million dollars to the very same firm the Clinton campaign used to fund the dossier? Why did they begin making payments in the very same month the Clinton campaign began paying for the dossier?
Why did President Obama’s FBI attempt to pay Christopher Steele for the Russian Dossier? Why was President Obama’s FBI involved in paying for a political project the Clinton campaign was orchestrating? Again, the FBI has refused to answer these questions and resisted any transparency on this issue.
Why brief the president and president-elect at all on the dossier if much of the dossier could not be verified? Or, if President Obama’s intelligence officials had reason to treat the dossier seriously, why did they wait two months after the election until January 6th to brief the President and President-elect?
And why was the Obama administration’s meeting with President-elect Trump leaked to CNN just four days after the briefing if, again, the dossier could not be verified?
At minimum, we must recognize that there are legitimate, unanswered questions about whether the Obama Justice Department involved themselves in a political project targeting then-candidate Donald Trump—a suggestion that has far more evidence behind it than the directionless investigation into Trump/Russian collusion.
The American people deserve answers to those questions. They demand answers to those questions.
It’s our government’s responsibility to find them by appointing a special counsel to investigate.
Republican Mark Meadows represents North Carolina's 11th Congressional District and is chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

By The New York Post Editorial Board
If crimes were committed to further Russia’s nuclear goals here, Americans need to know. And if Team Obama suspected that but still OK’d the Uranium One sale to a Russian firm, Americans deserve an explanation of that, too.
Yet Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ orders to prosecutors merely to see if a probe — perhaps headed by a special counsel — is warranted has critics in a lather.
No surprise there: The left fears a probe into Team Obama and the Clinton Foundation could taint Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, even if it turned up no damaging evidence. Worse, it could draw attention from the FBI investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by President Trump’s campaign.
So critics predict doomsday, claiming a special-counsel probe “could spell the end of the DOJ as an independent institution,” as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted.
Well, yes, Trump did provide ammo for such a claim when he said prosecutors should be looking at Democrats and that he was “disappointed” in Justice for not doing so. That stirred speculation that Sessions may launch a probe to save his own job.
But if that’s the case, the AG just made it harder for himself. He told lawmakers Tuesday he’d set a high bar before tapping a special counsel: “It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel,” he said.
Sure, Trump’s comments on what prosecutors should probe were as foolish as, say, Obama’s 2016 claim that Clinton’s e-mail mess didn’t harm national security — even as the FBI was investigating that question.
But Trump’s remarks shouldn’t keep Justice from looking into possible crimes merely because it would appear to be taking orders from the president.
Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash” raised red flags in 2015 about the Uranium One sale and its owners’ donations to the Clinton Foundation. Last month, The Hill reported that the FBI had evidence — even before Hillary & Co. OK’d that sale — of Russian “bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money-laundering” meant to “grow” Vladimir Putin’s nuclear interests in America.
Congress is right to look into this. Not to damage Clinton or Obama politically (a pointless exercise anyway), but to find out what Russia did and how to respond. Similarly, Justice should feel free to see if it needs to probe possible crimes.